by Alissa Crea
During the week leading up to YIKES!, my cooperating teacher and I used the Teacher’s Resource Guide to help prepare students for the performance in order for the students to fully connect to the plot and themes of the play.
We implemented two of the recommended pre-show lessons: “Family Meal,” an improvisation activity helping students to make the fundamental connection between the main characters in YIKES! and members of their own families, as well as the pre-show lesson “Overcoming the Frights,” in which students created and drew their own frights and as a group decided together how they can overcome each fright.
During the show, I saw our first grade students stretching their necks to see the stage. Many students were commenting on the action during the performance which only lead to a richer discussion during the post-show debrief with the cast at the playhouse.
During the following week, first graders took part in the post-show activity “Letters to Grandma,” in which the students took on the role of one of the characters in the play and wrote a letter to their no longer present “Grandma” in their chosen character’s point of view. The letters that were produced during this activity were incredible! They were each extremely articulate and compassionate. It was very evident that each student had their own interpretation of the play, but came to this understanding with concrete, supportive ideas – a long-lasting skill for every child. The ideas and themes within YIKES! were relatable to so many students’ lives that we have been able to tie these same ideas and themes into many of our additional lessons.
Every semester, the Program in Educational Theatre hosts two free matinees of their mainstage productions for school children in the New York City area. Teacher’s Resource Guides are created by staff in the program and distributed for use in the classroom with preparatory and reflective activities.